Friday, October 8, 2010

356 - Kallijas and Minis talk

Kallijas Itrean came into the Scarlet room quietly.  I was still ringing from being in the Imperial Chapel the night before and since he was not going to be training me this morning, I had given myself permission to sleep in.  I slept through the night, and deeply, in a way I hadn’t for several eight-days.

Though we’d spoken before, my possibly being Imperator, with him as my Regent, had not been on the table.  He sat down, as calmly as before, but his eyes on me were very, very intense.  “Minis,” he said.

“Kallijas,” I answered him.  “Though I keep wanting to say ‘Teacher’.”  He didn’t smile and I took a deep breath against the sinking sensation that gave me.  “I realize… we’re not sparring.”

He raised one eyebrow at me and his face hadn’t softened from cool judgment.  “Shefenga put forth the proposal to me.”

“Yes, ser.”

“You realize he… and you… are asking me to put my name with yours, my reputation.”

“Yes, ser.”  There was nothing to say other than that.

He cleared his throat, very much like Ailadas but I didn’t smile however much I wanted to at that image. “Ser… I understand that you don’t know me, and that I am asking you for an enormous trust.  How can I open myself up to you?  I would willingly give myself into your hands under truth-drug for you to question—“

“—no… no…” He shook his head but I dared throw up my hand and interrupt him back, as politely as I could.

“—please ser.  If you and I are to work together in any way… to win this vodai to begin with and then to work our rears off to make sure Arko is safe, secure and well off… once more on the path of the Gods… you need to know me.  And know me as quickly and as deeply as possible.”

He looked me up and down.  “I know you somewhat from training with you.  But this is the kind of thing that Sheng does.”

I signed chalk.

“All right.  We may as well start there.  Is there anything you would be uncomfortable with me asking?”

My lips twitched as I suppressed a smile.  “Lots of things that will make me uncomfortable… nothing I am unwilling to share with the man who needs to know my honesty… and my mettle, so to speak.”

He nodded.  “So, I shall inquire of Shefenga… if you are resolved, then a dose of truth-drug will be required.” I had just thought I would speak to my grandfather, but he would require permission from Chevenga either way, since truth-drug was a substance so controlled. 

He scribbled a note and sent it off with one of the servants and came back to sit down.  “Ch’venga won’t be free until this evening, late,” he said.  “Until then, why don’t we speak?”

“Certainly ser.  Um… the kitten you had me… um… learn from on the roof…”

Kallijas raised an eyebrow.  “One of the Marble Palace cats and it and its mother and siblings are surely excellently well cared for.  You are concerned for it?”

“I’m sorry.  Of course they would be all right.  I had cats when I lived here.  I like cats.”

“Ah.  Well, I prefer dogs myself, though not the smallest ones commonest here.”  I nodded.  Oh, this was going to be a long day.  Then I shook myself.  I needed to make friends with him.

“Did Ch’venga ever tell you that he threw me out of his room in the Mezem, more than once?”

“No – I think he felt that was not my business.”  Of course.

“It was safer for him if it were seen that we were not friends.”

His eye lit up with recognition, with memory.  “Oh, yes, he did tell me that.”  Now he smiled.  “He said that he had to pretend annoyance.”

“I was a persistent brat and kept coming back.  I'm sure my Mahid were confused by that.  He feigned annoyance really well.” I had to smile thinking of that.  I sent him a number of very odd gifts when he was first here.  I had no idea what he needed so I just sent things that struck an eleven year old’s fancy.”

Kallijas shrugged in a very Yeoli way.  “He wanted only one thing, and I don't think it was something you could give him.”  I shook my head.

“No. I said. “I trusted him from the day I met him.”  Kallijas was nodding.  “He’s devious, even though his deviousness never compromises his honesty.  I like that in him.”

“Yes.  I wish, frankly, he'd stay Imperator for another thirty years.”

That eyebrow again.  “I would like that as well.  I wouldn’t have to try and absorb an Imperial Education in moons instead of years.”

“You should speak to Ailadas Koren… he did an amazing job teaching me… and I fought him… I didn’t know at first he was ‘Killer Koren’ in the city faib league.” Oh hayel, what did that have to do with anything? “Um… when I wouldn’t listen, sometimes, he’d make me chase him on my faib skates.  And he could out-skate me.”

“An effective way of reaching an recalcitrant boy.  But… a faib player as a tutor?”

“Kurkas probably didn’t inquire… he would have been looking at academics.”

“Indeed.  Should you do this… and succeed— shall he be an advisor?”

“That would be up to him.  He’s a professor at the University and I might ask him but I certainly would not demand anything of him.  He does not owe me, I rather owe him a great deal.  He is a good teacher.”  I shrugged, aware that I had echoes of the Yeoli style of shrug in it.  “I had a lot of evidence for how to surround myself with bad and evil men.”

He nodded encouragement for me to go on.  I shrugged again.  “If any of the Kallen clan tried to suck up to me, with my father’s stains on their lips, I’d be inclined to vomit on their feet rather than listen to them.”

He smiled.  “You shouldn’t get me started on the Kallens, specifically Abatzas.”

“Ser…” I shivered. “You may ask Ch’venga… one of the Kallens hurt me when I was a boy… father laughed it off.  I would much rather have men like you and the Imperator and my old tutor around me.  Gannara as well.  I’m allergic to fanatics and torturers and cock-suckers, excuse my coarse language.”

I think that was when he truly started to warm up to me.  We had kaf that afternoon and the evening meal, getting to know one another.  He talked about his son and how Ch’venga’s legal changes had affected his boy's mother… who was now apparently happily married, though not to Kallijas Sr.

Our conversation ranged over the laws and the history and we went up to the concervancy to speak to Atzana about some of the old books I had studied years ago and hidden away in bookshelves in the Heir’s rooms.  Atzana had been having the books brought up to be checked and saved from decay.  I was able to point out the stack of books I had been studying, recommended by General Mud and Kallijas was quite surprised that I had not only sought out Dafidas Pasen, but had created all the subterfuges to study with him… as much as I had been able to. Then we spent several hours just talking about his campaigns and other western campaigns.

We even had time to play a game or two of sha after dinner.  Gan was with his family for the evening so we waited for Chevenga to be finished his working day.

Kallijas looked up at the final Imperial chime of the day.  “He should be down soon.”

My heart rose up to my throat.  I’d been truth-drugged the one time when 2nd Amitzas had woken me up to do it.  And I had no reason to be frightened.  I had talked Kallijas into it, but I still felt scared.  I had nothing to hide from him… or from Chevenga, but would the bad I felt was in me… would that come out when I was helpless?

“Minis,” Kallijas’s voice was gentle.  I looked up abruptly at him, but didn’t interrupt.  “I don’t need to have you truth-drugged before me.  I’ve learned a great deal having been with you all day.”  I shook my head. I am showing that I’m scared.  But I don’t want to put the stone face on.  I have a choice to let people see, or go blank as a Mahid.  Neither is good.  I have to learn better.

“No.  Thank you. I did say it was important that you ask what you need of me, and be able to trust the answers, entirely. I gave you my word I would and insist on keeping my word.”

“All right,” he said quietly and that was when the door clicked and he looked up to greet Chevenga.  “Hello, Sheng.”

Chevenga had a box in his hand... probably holding a vial of truth-drug and a needle.  “Hello, love,” he said.  I looked away politely as they kissed each other.  I don’t need to be so scared.  Nobody here is going to hurt me. 


  1. What a dreadful place to end for the weekend, lol.

  2. “He’s devious, even though his deviousness never compromises his honesty. I like that in him.”
    I totally loved this line :)
    and yes... evil cliffhanger, but I also noticed that the previous post has been renumbered twice now so we will get the truth-drugging scene monday right?

  3. Sorry... not Monday because it is the Canadian Thanksgiving...

    But hopefully Tuesday.